#5 The White Album (April 27)

 “The Stylistic Content of the “White Album”

Assignment:  Due: Thursday, April 27, 2017; 9:30 am
Length: varied
Value: 150 points

Download “White Album” — Disc One | Disc Two

  1. Listen to “The White Album” by the Beatles.
    (You may need to listen to certain songs more than once.)2000px-The_White_Album.svg
  2. Identify and define your own set of musical/artistic styles heard on this album.
  3. Place each song on the album into one of the categories you defined.
  4. Choose one song from each of your categories and discuss what causes you to place it as you did. You should include your analysis of the elements of music, rhythm, lyrics, and anything else that causes you to place the songs in their respective categories.

Successful completion of the assignment will include enough styles/categories to differentiate and distinguish what you hear but not so many that each song becomes a genre unto itself.

#4 Hall of Fame (April 13)

Opinion Paper

LENGTH:  Variable
DUE:  April 13, 2017; 9:30 am
VALUE:  100 points

The inductees for the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are…

  • Joan BaezNew-LogoYES
  • ELO
  • Journey
  • Pearl Jam
  • Tupac Shakur
  • Yes
  • Nile Rodgers (musical excellence) —> 25 points extra

CHOOSE ONE band/performer and persuasively argue both why they SHOULD and SHOULD NOT be admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Your argument should include stylistic, historical, cultural, and economic points.

Find out more about the process and induction.


#3 Defining Art (March 21)

ASSIGNMENT:  Reflective/Analytical Essay

VALUE: 150 points

LENGTH: 2-3+ pages
FORMAT:  hard copy OR email attachment

DUE:  Tuesday, March 21, 2017; 9:30 am


Identify three performers or acts that are related to each other by their place in the development of a style or genre. (You may also choose to use a single performer/band/act.) Each should represent one of the three stages of the development of an art form/genre/style — experimentation, conventionalization, and mannerism.

  • How does each fit into these stages and how does one lead to another?
  • Which musical or lyrical elements stay consistent and which change?
  • How does one build upon the previous?
  • Is this evolution “internal” or “external”? (Influenced by other musicians, the industry)
  • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of all.

Additional ideas to consider or not to consider…

  • Does experimental = artistic?
  • Does popular = shallow?
  • Can popular music be more artistic than experimental?
  • Does your status as culturally and intellectually elite make you more or less qualified to define the value of art? Does it affect your perspective?
  • Can bands/acts/performers start commercial and move to experimental within the same genre, or do they create a new genre/style by doing so?
  • Which of the three “states of art” contributes most to the development of an art form?

This paper should be more than simply a stream-of-consciousness opinion paper. You should analyze musical examples to back up your position.


In the broadest sense, you should provide a citation when you use someone else’s analysis or opinion. A statement like “Adele is a British singer born in 1988” does not require a citation; it is common knowledge. On the other hand, if you read an article where the author states, “Adele, a British singer born in 1988, is the 21st century iteration of 1970-80s singer-songwriters such as Paul Simon and Billy Joel, both of whom took their aesthetic cues from Bob Dylan’s work in the first half of the 1960s,” then you must provide a citation. And just to confuse the issue, if that statement is YOUR analysis, you must then go on to back up that analysis with additional facts (with citations) or through your own musical analysis that substantiates the claim.

You should feel free to use the style guide with which you are most familiar. Most work in the humanities uses MLA or Chicago, but the most important element of any paper is that you are consistent.

#2 Music in 2067 (Feb 16)


Describe popular music in the year 2067.

Due: Thursday, Feb 16th; 9:30 am
Format: Hard copy OR email (PDF)
Length: 2 pages +/-

Points:  100

You may wish to think about (but don’t necessarily limit yourself to) some or all of the following:

  • What artists and songs from today do you think will be considered to have had the greatest influences on the music of that period?
  • How will music be consumed?
  • Will there notable social or cultural elements to popular music?
  • What form, style, sound, etc. will rock and roll have taken?
  • What do you think YOU will listen to?
  • What do you think your kids and grandkids might listen to?
  • What will still be the most recognizable element of popular music? The most changed? What will surprise us the most?
  • What part of that which we now consider “classic” rock will survive, and what place will it hold?
  • Are there any trends, styles, performers who are hugely popular today who will be forgotten?
  • Are there artists who we dismiss today who nonetheless will have had a significant impact on the future of music.
  • Will today’s divisions between styles continue?

1.5 or 2 line spacing,
1” margins maximum
11 point font maximum

#1a Concerts (May 5th)


VALUE: 100 points each
LENGTH: 2 pages
FORMAT: email attachment
DUE: Friday, May 5th; 11:59 pm

You are required to attend TWO rock/pop/country/blues/alternative/hip hop/etc concert during the session and write a reaction essay. (Examples of styles NOT allowed are classical, opera, musical theater) Your discussions can be relatively free form, including impressions and likes & dislikes expressed in the form of a music review, but it should ultimately lean toward the idea of placing what you heard into one or more of the styles about which we are talking in class. In other words, can you trace modern, current music being played in the real world to historical styles we are studying? Does the band/performer bring anything new to the style?

#1 Music You Hate! (Feb 7)

DUE:  TUE, FEB 7 2017; 9:30 am

Length:  2-4 paragraphs
Format:   Email PDF Attachment or Hard Copy

*   *   *   *   *

Choose a song, performer, or genre that you would normally never listen to….DON’T listen yet.

Write 1-2 paragraphs that briefly describe your preconceptions about the style/performer/genre. You might also comment on your reasons for not listening to this type of music.

Listen to the song three times in a critical manner. Think about and comment on things like rhythm, melody, harmony, how the song is assembled,

instruments, the vocalist, lyrics, etc. You might want to take notes the second and third times.

Write 1-2 paragraphs that comment on the actual listening experience by considering all, some, or none of the following ideas:

  • Is it different when you are concentrating on only listening?
  • Were your preconceptions accurate? Rational?
  • Does the music have value to you?
  • What defines value for you?
  • Is it possible for it to be “good” music even if you don’t like it?
  • Did you change your mind?